Galesburg’s Indonesian trade mission opens up opportunities for region’s businesses

December 26, 2012 09:41 AM
A Galesburg/West Central Illinois led trade mission returned  last week from Indonesia, a Southeast Asian democracy, and one of the world’s fastest growing economies. The seven day trade mission saw businesses from the region and its mobile machinery industry cluster meet with Indonesian business leaders, government officials and trade organizations involved in large coal mining and railroad infrastructure projects. The week of face-to-face meetings and exchanges of information could lead to some very lucrative contracts for the region’s businesses. Participants in the trade mission came away with several potential prospects for business that could mean significant exports.
Galesburg’s Mayor Sal Garza led the trade mission, which met with several high level Indonesian officials and business leaders. One of the trade mission’s highlights was a meeting and reception hosted by Governor Awang, of East Kalimantan, one of Indonesia’s mineral rich provinces that is undertaking several large coal mining and railroad projects. trade mission participants traveled through Borneo’s jungle by road to meet with the Governor, Mayors of Samarinda and Balikpapn, several Directors of government ministries and business leaders of the coal and rail industry. Mayor Garza explained, "We came to East Kalimantan to meet with these decision makers and show  hem that we are interested in doing business – providing them with the solutions they need to grow their economy and businesses. Our overture was met warmly and our businesses were able to start the dialogue that I am sure will lead to business, and that being our region exporting to Indonesia."
Koppers Inc, a US based publicly traded company with a  Galesburg presence, and a long time key supplier of maintenance of way products to the passenger and freight railroad industry, participated in the recent Indonesian trade mission trip. 
Mr. Vivek Caroli, Koppers' trade mission representative for this area of the world, came away with very positive impressions for potential future business opportunities. According to Mr.  Caroli, "Indonesia appears to represent a potential market for our rail industry related products and services. Various rail projects in the area are a very positive sign and this trade mission has allowed us face time with some key decision makers. As a result, we have come away from this trip with some supporting marketing data that give us real optimism that future business opportunities for Koppers Inc. may, in fact, evolve. We look forward to engaging with key decision makers as these rail projects develop.
Nathan Kress, Marketing Manager for Kress Co. of Brimfield Illinois said, "The trade mission allowed us to present our products to a market we want to be part of - Indonesian coal production. They are a major supplier of coal to growing Asian markets and there is real Opportunity there for us. We look at this as potential we want to take advantage of."
The trade mission was a joint effort between the city of Galesburg and the State of Illinois, and was the result of months of planning between the city and the Indonesian Consulate in Chicago.  The U.S.Embassy, the U.S. Department of Commerce in Jakarta, and the World trade Center-Illinois were also very instrumental in seeing this trade mission fulfill its goals. According to Gary Camarano, Galesburg’s Global Strategies Director, "Our partners at the U.S. Embassy and the U.S. Department of Commerce were very helpful. Their mission is to help U.S. businesses find opportunity aboard and they take that mission seriously. The U.S. Embassy was a key component in the partnership that made this a successful trade mission."  Camarano continued saying, "Often  they see trade missions from large cities with Fortune 500 participants. I think they found it refreshing to see a small micropolitan lead a trade mission of small and mid-sized companies - the real job creators in our economy and getting them participating in the global economy is important, and the U.S. Embassy is there to help them."
When asked why Indonesia, Camarano presented a case that included, "Indonesia is the 4th largest country by population, the 3rd largest democracy and 17 th largest economy, recently growing at 6.5%. It’s a young population with a growing middle class and they want good trade relations with the US. I think we can work with Indonesia and find mutually beneficial trade opportunities." Camarano added, "We’ve done our homework on this, and identified a growing economy that wants to do business with us. We have the products Indonesia wants and the city has been able to foster an environment through the trade mission where our businesses can meet with decision makers and sell. The process has starteD and we’ll be  there helping it move along to a positive conclusion, and by that we mean sales and exports." 
The seven trade mission participants, Kress Co., National Rail Equipment, Astec Mobile Screens, Miner Enterprises, ROE Machine Co., Koppers, Inc. and the Flipple Co., participated in 35 pre-set sales appointments; meetings with five Indonesian government ministries; officials of the East Kalimantan government; and other business leaders in the coal and rail industries. The trade mission received support from the  State of Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity; the U.S.Embassy and U.S. Department of Commerce in Indonesia; the Indonesian Consulate in Chicago; the city of Galesburg and its economic development arm, the EBI Network; and the World trade Center Illinois. 
Mayor Garza observed, "This was a major initiative of the city’s Economic Development team, and we were assisted by several key stakeholders. By bringing them all together we were able to have a successful trade mission. But, it doesn’t stop here. We want to bring our Indonesian partners here to Galesburg and West Central Illinois as well as continuing to bring our businesses together in purposeful dialogue to conclude business."
"While in Indonesia we discussed opportunities for foreign facilities to locate distribution facilities in Galesburg, uncovering three prospects," Garza added, "and we will be very assertive in bringing distribution and manufacturing facilities to the region when they are a good fit for all. Establishing export relationships, but also encouraging foreign direct investment are two outcomes we are looking to achieve, and trade missions like this bring us closer to that end."
Heavy industry wasn’t the only focus of the trade mission. Local business woman Linda Lewis of the Flipple Company traveled with the trade mission to look for distribution partners for her baby care product, the Flipple. Lewis said, "Indonesia represents a great market for us - a young, growing population with a concern over water quality for their children. This fits Flipple’s market profile. I was able to connect with what looks like some very serious potential distribution partners. This could propel Flipple into the next level of sales. I’m very excited and view the trade mission as a success. It is giving me the opportunities I need to really grow."
The trade mission not only garnered high praise from US participants, but also from their counterparts on the Indonesian side as well. Tjetjep Prasetya, Head - External Affairs for MEC Coal, said, "Galesburg’s trade  mission was well received because they brought potential solutions to the needs of our businesses. Coal and rail are a major emphasis for us, and the Galesburg trade mission was right on target. I look forward to working with these companies." Agus Buana, with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, added Galesburg, "Made a very favorable impression on all they met. The participation of a high ranking elected official, and several high caliber participants meant that this was a serious trade mission, and will be taken as such. I believe this was a success."
The  trade mission allows Galesburg/West  Central Businesses the opportunity to continue the sales process and move closer to contracts. The city remains ready to help the process with its technical resources and networks. For further information  regarding the city of Galesburg and West Central Illinois, and the economic development programs available for companies looking for export opportunities, please contact  Cesar Suarez, Economic Development Director at, 309/345-3680  or Gary Camarano at, 309/371-0474.


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